Ashleigh Barty Becomes First Home Singles Winner Of Australian Open In 44 Years

The 25-year-old from Queensland has claimed the Australian Open title
13:10, 29 Jan 2022

For 87 minutes, there was barely a flicker of emotion from Ashleigh Barty. No histrionics, no drama - but there was a skip of delight and a roar of excitement when she became the first home player to win a singles event at the Australian Open in 44 years.

The 25-year-old, unruffled by being billed the overwhelming tournament-favourite, turned the first major of the year into a procession as she clinched the third leg of a Career Grand Slam with the minimum of fuss.

The top seed encountered difficulties in the second set of the final against a spirited Danielle Collins, however, the trophy destination never looked in doubt from the moment she entered Melbourne Park a fortnight ago.

The championship match is unlikely to live long in the memory - a scrappy yet engaging affair - but the majority inside Rod Laver Arena did not seem to mind. They had witnessed Australian sporting history, and a wall of sound greeted the winning forehand.

The weight of expectation has proved problematic for locals chasing success at home. Pat Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Stosur, Pat Cash, Nick Kyrgios and many others have endeavoured to end the drought, but Barty has delivered for an expectant nation.

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As a country salutes the success of a hugely popular heroine, there will be songs bellowed with gusto and alcohol devoured. The euphoria will be nationwide, but Barty will take it all in her stride and already be contemplating family time away from the spotlight.

Talented, tenacious and humble, it is easy to understand why Australian television viewing-figures soar when the proud Ngarigo woman takes to the court. It has been a remarkable rise for Barty, who quit the sport as a teenager due to off-court struggles.

The Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup has embarked on a world tour over the last four decades, but it will be residing in Queensland for at least the next 12 months.

Barty has become champion without conceding a set - and was only taken to a tiebreak once. Big-hitting opponents with attacking mantras and uncompromising styles tried to overpower the crafty top seed, but the Australian exposed their flaws before dismissing them.

Barty excels in most facets of the game, but her backhand slice inflicted the most damage in Melbourne. Her rivals are more used to encountering pace than dealing with varied speeds and spins, and they were often bewildered by the variety across the net. The Australian is a problem-solver - and she has again proved that brawn is not always the answer.

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